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Published: Wednesday, 5/19/2010

Budget plan could cause problems for Toledo in '11

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
McNamara McNamara
THE BLADE/DAVE ZAPOTOSKY Enlarge | Buy This Photo

With nearly all unions taking concessions, Toledo's budget appears to be in the black, but the city's 2011 spending plan could already be getting blotted with red ink.

Toledo City Council yesterday unanimously reversed the forced concessions it slapped on the police patrolmen's union after it approved an agreement that Mayor Mike Bell said helps keep the 2010 general fund budget balanced.

Although Councilman Joe McNamara voted in favor of lifting the forced concessions from an "exigent circumstances" declaration, he questioned the wisdom of the new deal with the police union and other city bargaining units because they essentially shift millions in debt to 2011.

"There are negotiated raises next year of 2.5 percent for some of the bargaining units and 3.5 percent for some of the other bargaining units," Mr. McNamara said. "We will also be going to the full pension pickup [again] in 2011, so the city's expenses are going to increase and if our revenue does not catch up or surpass it, we will be facing similar difficulties."

The Toledo Police Patrolman's Association voted Monday to approve an agreement to end its

impasse with the city.

Deputy Mayor of Operations Steve Herwat said it would save the city $2.6 million for the 2010 budget.

The city saved about $521,000 from the TPPA union members paying their own "pension pickups" and increased medical insurance contributions since council declared exigent circumstances on March 30 until those measures end on May 27 under the new agreement.

At that point, the officers won't pay anything for their own pension premiums - the city will - and their health insurance costs will drop.

Patrol officers will defer payment of any overtime between June 1 and March, 2011, when it will be paid out with a 3.5 percent increase. The 3.5 percent pay raise starting on Jan. 1, 2011, is contained within the union's current three-year contract. It will be applied to the overtime worked this year when it is paid out next year, under the deal. However, any officers within three years of retirement do not have to defer the overtime. The new deal also prohibits layoffs of any patrolmen before April 1, 2011.

Police Chief Mike Navarre said the deferred overtime will be about $1 million shifted to the 2011 budget.

There is also about $640,000 in unpaid compensatory time that will be frozen and not paid out until next year because of the agreement and about $236,000 due to about 30 patrol officers under their contracts for unused sick time they can cash out.

The Bell administration will push back the start of the new police class from Oct. 1 until

Nov. 1 to save the city $175,000 for the 2010 budget.

Even with the potential budget problems for next year, Chief Navarre said he was pleased the TPPA approved the agreement.

"The situation that existed prior to the vote was very bad for the police department and very bad for the city," the chief said. "When I spoke to a number of the officers, a lot of them were stuck on this 'the contract is the contract, it cannot be broken,' but I said to look at this as an alternative to layoffs."

Mayor Bell said he would have had to lay off at least 125 officers if the TPPA rejected the new pact.

The same unilateral concessions from the exigent circumstances declaration were imposed on the city's exempt employees as well as members of the TPPA, the Toledo Police Command Officers Association, Toledo Fire Chiefs Association, AFSCME Local 7, and AFSCME 2058.

Only the command officers' union and Teamsters Local 20, which represents refuse workers, are still at odds with the Bell administration.

Mr. Bell yesterday thanked the other unions for "stepping up" and agreeing to take midcontract concessions.

Under their own separate agreements, the Toledo Fire Chiefs Association, AFSCME Local 7, and AFSCME 2058 will pay 3 percent of their pension premiums through Dec. 31. The 75 communications operators in Local 7 who have a separate agreement with the city will pay 3.5 percent through Dec. 31.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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